VA Home Care Program Is a Cost-Beneficial Alternative to Institutional Care and Should Be Expanded

HRD-81-72: Published: Apr 27, 1981. Publicly Released: Apr 27, 1981.

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Home health care is generally recognized as a beneficial and cost-effective alternative to prolonged hospital and nursing home care. GAO reviewed the Veterans Administration's (VA) hospital-based home care program. The objective of the review was to evaluate the program's effectiveness as an alternative to institutional medical care and its potential for expansion.

GAO believes that the potential for program expansion exists. GAO found that many patients in VA medical centers could have used the home care program. However, VA has not attempted to identify and project the number of veterans suitable for home care or to expand the program since 1974. VA has allowed medical centers a great deal of flexibility in implementing their programs while providing little guidance and monitoring. VA has not established clearly defined objectives for the program conveying VA home care goals. This lack of guidance limits program effectiveness and has resulted in wide variations in the home care programs.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to provide the hospital-based home care program with adequate funding so that it can be expanded.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  2. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to develop guidelines that assure more uniformity and consistency among individual home care programs.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  3. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to identify the number of veterans in VA medical facilities who are suitable for home care placement.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  4. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to conduct periodic program evaluations to assure that individual home care programs are carried out in accordance with agency policy and program objectives.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

  5. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Administrator of Veterans Affairs should direct the Chief Medical Director to clearly define the objectives of the VA home care program, emphasizing the cost benefits as a primary goal, and convey the objectives to all medical centers.

    Agency Affected: Veterans Administration

 

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